By Katie Neitz

Statistics touch many aspects of our everyday lives: It’s how a meteorologist can forecast if it will rain tomorrow, how a doctor can help a patient weigh the risk/benefit of a treatment, how a social media strategist can predict which photo will be most engaging.

Trent Gaugler, associate professor of mathematics, will explore the wide range of applied statistics during the College’s upcoming Thomas Roy and Lura Forest Jones Faculty Lecture. The lecturer is selected for superior teaching and scholarship at the College. 

Gaugler will present “A Random Walk through Applied Statistics” Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be a hybrid event, available in person in 104 Kirby Hall of Civil Rights or virtually via Zoom

Trent Gaugler wears Lafayette mask, points at a computer screen with a student in a tech lab

Prof. Trent Gaugler works with a student in a tech lab.

As a statistician, Gaugler uses data to uncover patterns and help others draw meaningful conclusions about those patterns. In his talk, he will briefly describe some of his projects, including his work with NASA to study public reaction to sonic boom and his collaboration with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, and several other institutions both in the U.S. and Sweden to study the genetic link of autism. (Learn more about Gaugler’s work.)

As a professor, Gaugler wants his students to understand how data can drive informed decision-making, but he also stresses the importance of understanding the limits of data. 

“The power of statistics is that it can be applied so broadly. There are very few problems in today’s world that you can’t get data on,” Gaugler says. “However, it’s also really important to understand that not all data leads to the best answer. Data can give you insight, but it’s important to integrate our knowledge about the way the world works, and the way people behave, and include those variables to make the best decisions.”

Gaugler earned a B.S. in mathematics at Bucknell University in 2003 and his Ph.D. in statistics from Penn State University in 2009. He worked as an assistant professor in Penn State’s Statistical Consulting Center, and then taught statistics at Carnegie Mellon before taking a position in the mathematics department at Lafayette in 2014.

Attend the event

  • “A Random Walk through Applied Statistics,” will be presented Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. as a hybrid event, available in person in 104 Kirby Hall of Civil Rights or virtually via Zoom
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